Follow Friday: Boston College
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The students and alumni of Boston College are a proactive bunch. This year alone, one alum kicked off the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and current students made a parody of “Shake It Off,” which earned a thumbs up from Taylor Swift herself.
These are just a few examples of what makes BC so fun to follow online. To learn more, we caught up with Melissa Beecher, Boston College’s Social Media Manager, and Patti Delaney, Deputy Director of the Office of News and Public Affairs, who shared their experiences running BC’s social media.
How do you manage Boston College’s various social media accounts?
Beecher: Boston College has a Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and a couple of blogs in addition to our Snapchat account. It’s our pilot semester with [Snapchat], and the feedback so far has been incredible. We interact day-to-day with our users and post content on a daily basis.
How do you maintain the Snapchat account?
MB: We do a series of contests and student takeovers for the account. We hide various things around campus, like T-shirts and prizes.
The most interesting thing we did was have people snap us back in what was basically a photo contest showing school spirit. The second Snapchat we got back was from Jesuit priests from the School of Ministry. We knew we were onto something when our own priests were snapping back.
I was very skeptical, but after seeing the potential of the engagement between students, I got the platform. Our office manager is really behind this—Michael Maloney is really spearheading the Snapchat account, but I oversee it.
What are the goals for Boston College on social media?
Delaney: We have a mission statement for all of the channels, and we try to use all of them as another way to tell BC’s story and to uphold the mission of the college itself. We use the popular #WeareBC hashtag because we believe that to be true—the community is really a family.
MB: Our account numbers are great and we really value engagement—it’s a part of our success.
In three words, describe the voice and tone Boston College’s social media.
MB: Smart vibrant community.
Which social media account is the strongest channel for Boston College? If you had to pick, which one is the “must-follow”?
MB: I think there’s a little bit of disagreement here. If you’re looking for straight account numbers, it’s Facebook and LinkedIn. But engagement-wise, our most engaged and popular by far—especially by our students I think—is Twitter, because of the back and forth.
For Instagram, there are a lot of campus beauty shots. Part of the beauty of the Instagram account is that we’ve always had a student help determine what that account should be that semester. A student curates and decides what images to use. This semester is different because we are selecting from a pool of nine student “social media fellows” from our social program. It’s a little different than other semesters, but it’s still vibrant.
PD: In terms of sheer popularity, Instagram. But as for engagement, Twitter is a great place for conversation.
How do you respond to your followers on social media?
MB: It is really on a case-by-case basis depending on what the question or comment is. We do have a liberal comments policy in terms of Facebook. The comments, questions, and concerns are really unfiltered unless there’s a vulgarity issue or something—we really let the community express themselves. If there’s a factual error, we step in. But we do want these conversations to happen.
PD: We like nothing better than to share something with someone who has posted. It doesn’t always have to come from us—we love seeing what’s out there and sharing with everyone else. If someone is on Twitter and has an issue, then we are happy to direct them to the proper place on campus [for help].
What’s the weirdest, most surprising, or most outspoken feedback you’ve gotten via social media?
PD: We don’t receive a lot of weird responses. We do think it’s interesting that there is a distinction between how people view the #GassonGram. At the same time folks are saying members of the community are posting too many of those, but they’ve also never been more popular. It’s on the student bucket list that you have to post a selfie with the Gasson in the background.
Since you’ve been with Boston College, what has been your personal favorite story to share on social media?
PD: It was heartwarming being able to share posts related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge when Pete Frates was the alum and driving force behind it. It was amazing watching it kick off across the country and across the world. He actually came to speak at our social media council. He told us about the viral video that hasn’t been matched before or since then. Another one of our alumni Kevin Allocca headed YouTube’s Culture and Trends at Google and was looking at the Ice Bucket Challenge from YouTube’s perspective. And we were able to hear about it from the family’s prospective and hear it ourselves.
— Boston College (@BostonCollege) August 12, 2014
Did you personally take part in the ASL Ice Bucket challenge?
PD: Like Tina Fey, I wrote the check. I went the Tina Fey route.
MB: Yes, my college roommate nominated me.
Do you ever get in Twitter fights with Boston College’s rivals?
MB: No, I think the closest that has ever happened was when our BC Dining and BU Dining went at each other during the Beanpot. BU tweeted at BC Dining, “Congrats @BC_Dining on winning the #beanpot if you need a recipe on how to cook them let us know…” and our dining replied, “.@BUDiningService Aw, thanks. 🙂 It’s a shame you won’t be able to use any of those recipes anytime soon. #fiveandcounting.”
Are there any special tweet series that you do throughout the year?
PD: We always like to welcome the students back. We follow the academic calendar when it comes to exam season, study season, or approaching vacations. We follow the athletic schedule too.
MB: Particular traditions that happen at BC as well—that’s always high engagement. And we’ll tweet during the summer—there is never a dull moment.
Responses have been edited and condensed.